I don’t know how I’ve managed it, but overnight I’ve developed a raging sunburn. It must have been reading outside yesterday afternoon. When there was no sun…in the shade. With today’s fierce sun, there’s no way I can be out on the bike to get to Talmont-sur-Gironde. Most cross.
Luckily, we can drive. It’s 6 km path hugging the coastline from one headland to the other This estuary is Europe’s largest, running right into Bordeaux, splitting into the La Garonne and La Dordogne rivers. The massive tide is in play with bare sand as far as the eye can see.
Talmont-sur-Gironde was built in 1284 under order of an English king, Edward I. It sits perched on the headland, defensively surrounded by white stone ramparts, its crowning glory the Romanesque 12th century church of Saint Radegonde.
The village is filled with craft shops, restaurants, art galleries and is covered in flowers. Hollyhocks and climbing roses feature regularly as does ivy and all manner of flowering climbers. With it’s bleached white cottages and mediaeval winding streets it’s very picturesque. The rampart walk offers great views across the bay, eventually leading to the church then the bay and headland beyond.
The ramparts are an extraordinary feat, a plumet to the sea bed below.
Set on the posterior headland are carralets, fishing huts on stilts, built at the edge of the water with a walkway from the cliff.
Each is equipped with a large square net which can be pulley lowered into the estuary at high tide. Seafood surprise for dinner it seems. It’s been an ancient way of fishing: the use of carralets was perfected in the 1800s, first developed as a way of keeping fisherman dry. The huts are privately owned, only for the owner’s use, very much in the theme of sustainability.
We lap the village a couple of times, pop into the church then succumb to the lure of a long lunch in a delightful setting, under colourful umbrellas, surrounded by greenery.
It’s a cool respite from the sun. Chris plays it safe with an enrecote with pepper sauce, I have gambas flamed in cognac. Oh my… delicious!
A bottle of rose, dessert and coffee later, we’re in full relaxation mode. There’s time for a final lap of the ramparts and village, a quick hello to three dogs who speak English (and own a local hotel – very enterprising) then it’s home for a sleepy end to the day.
The tide follows us home. We can see tiny sprats swimming at its edge, in a panic whenever the water recedes slightly. Silly fishies – they’ll be gull bait if they don’t wake up.
And as a bonus the beauty of going out for a long lunch, is that you don’t have to bother with dinner. A snack will suffice… and there are no dishes. Score.